Published: 30/05/2002, Volume II2, No. 5807 Page
Monitor likes to keep up with the glitterati and occasionally pops round to the Ivy, expecting to see the likes of Stephen Fry or one of those supermodels at the next table. But it seems London's top eateries are no longer the place to be seen - not when the Commons health select committee is in session, at any rate. Yes, the domain of rugby-loving Old Labourite David Hinchliffe MP is the hot and happening corner of swinging London in the noughties. While only a couple of members of the public thronged the room to hear last week's fascinating evidence on the independent appointment commission's first year in operation, a friend of Monitor's couldn't help noticing infiltration of the press bench by 'various individuals I am sure were not from the press'. Gosh! Who could be after those sought-after uncomfy seats? First up, the very fragrant former health secretary Virginia Bottomley, who turned up after proceedings had started, graced the committee with her star quality for about 15 minutes then left. This was followed by an appearance from culture vulture and king of the bonkbuster Lord Melvyn Bragg, who came into the committee room but left promptly. The brief sighting of Austin Mitchell MP - in one door and straight out - must have been a let-down for the committee. Next week, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow present their evidence on delayed discharges in committee room 14.
Now, an update on CHAI, the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection announced in the wake of the Budget. Monitor had heard suggestions that the august new body was named in tribute to New Labour's favourite private healthcare merchant, Chai Patel. But Annabelle Mark, professor of healthcare organisation at Middlesex University business school, is a more diligent researcher. 'I see from my Twinings Tea of the same name, that 'legend has it a royal king in the ancient court of India invented Chai'' she writes. And Monitor thought Big Al had thought of it all by himself. Apparently, Chai's roots 'can be traced to the Hindu natural healing system of Ayurveda where herbs, spices and tea were combined for their health benefits as a digestive aid'. Professor Mark wonders if a little sip might make CHAI's message 'easier to swallow'.
Now That is what Monitor calls supportive and developmental.